An Open Letter to Administration from SPU nursing students

Alaysja Clark

An Open Letter to Seattle Pacific University and the Lydia Green School of Nursing,

We write this letter as an expression of our deep disappointment in the news that our well-respected clinical instructor, Professor Rinedahl, was refused a position as full-time staff in our program on the basis of his sexuality. This comes as a shock to us, since as healthcare professionals, we are taught to treat every patient (and every person) with care and empathy no matter their age, race, ability, gender identity, or sexuality. We believe that it is unacceptable for our educational institution to turn away a well-qualified candidate like Professor Rinedahl simply because he is not heterosexual. A person’s sexual orientation should have no effect on their professional advancement. Many of us are disheartened that we must still be having this conversation in 2021. As a Christian institution, Seattle Pacific preaches love and acceptance, diversity and representation, and even “Inclusive Excellence.” Yet, if behind closed doors this institution discriminates against those whom it claims to lift up, how are we to truly believe the love and acceptance we are told we receive? It is our belief that the strides we take toward Inclusive Excellence must be wholly inclusive. Conditional inclusivity is not inclusivity at all.  

We conclude that Professor Rinedahl deserves better and that students deserve better. The precedent set by the decision not to hire Professor Rinedahl has had a devastating impact. If the administration does not support their own staff, we struggle to believe that administration will support us, the student body. Frankly, this decision has caused many of us to lose trust in the faculty we know and love. We feel hurt and confused by the news that has been uncovered this week and hope for transparency in the weeks to come. This is our formal request that the Lydia Green Nursing Program and Seattle Pacific University Administration offer full transparency and take steps motivated by humility to rectify their actions. We ask Seattle Pacific University to do better. We ask that they demonstrate the very values they have taught us and stop the culture of discrimination. We ask that they work to form an intersectional definition of Inclusive Excellence. And finally, we ask that they honor Professor Rinedahl’s wishes. 

As Seattle Pacific University nursing students, we acknowledge the long history of advocacy that queer communities, and especially Black femme, have been participating in for decades. We affirm that all people are created in the image of God. We affirm and celebrate our LGBTQIA+ staff and students.


Sincerely and respectfully,

The Nursing Students of SPU